A reader shared this article on one of our open threads.  It’s a news story based on a Pew Research study from last year which notes that we’re still a ways off from fully shaking off our post-recession hangover:

The research group found that, “nationwide, the median income of U.S. households in 2014 stood at 8% less than in 1999, a reminder that the economy has yet to fully recover from the effects of the Great Recession of 2007-2009.”

If my math is correct, median income dropped by about 7% for the upper class.   Given that my household income still isn’t within reach of joining the local country club anytime soon, I can only think of that time on Gilligan’s Island that Mrs Howell explained how devastating the Great Depression was on Thurston because he “became only a millionaire”.  Then I snicker, shake my head, and down a can of Milwaukee’s Best.

It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to anyone’s plight, it’s just that the rich were plenty rich in 2007 and they’re still plenty rich now.  I’m not one to complain about income inequality or even to covet my neighbor’s crap, but it says a lot about our current state of stratification that one group can take that large a hit on income and still be quite prosperous.

Who was hit hardest and still has yet to recover?  The poor, of course.  They took almost a 10% decrease in median income.  Is there anything that doesn’t suck harder for them?


  1. when you reach that stage where you’e so rich, you wonder how the other rich people are doing.

    What will make people wealthy in the future in a post-retail economy? And where will the income for the working poor come from, as the jobs they traditionally relied on disappear? Most working poor do NOT want to go on welfare, or a basic income provided by the government if it comes to that.

  2. Is there anything in the Constitution that comes anywhere within the same stratosphere of the Government providing a universal basic income?

  3. The part that blows my mind is this:

    Here’s the breakdown of how much you have to earn each year to be considered upper income, depending on the size of your family:

    Household of two: Minimum of $102,001

    We’ve had discussions in the past regarding how we all define lower/middle/upper classes. My definition has always been:

    Middle class: Not worrying about whether you’re going to bounce your checks. Having the funds, without living beyond your means, to cover all of your bills.

    Upper class: Having the funds to pay all your bills and afford all of your luxury items — boats, 2nd houses, traveling, etc…

    Lower class: Not being able to cover your monthly expenses, even if you are living within “reasonable” means.

    However, it appears that my definition clashes with the Pew definition. $102,001 for a family of 2 is upper class????

    I am beside myself with disbelief. I would have assumed that the number would be around $250,000, honestly. Yes, I get that this is just the lower boundary of the upper class, but I know many people that are well above that mark. None of them are what I would consider rich, which is what I would consider somebody of the upper class to be.

    When my wife and I were debating whether we could afford to have a child, we were upper class, according to this definition. Oh, don’t get me wrong — I know that, to some extent, her and I are like the “other” couple at the start of Idiocracy who overanalyzed the whole thing. But I wouldn’t think that an upper class couple would have to worry about having *multiple* kids, let alone one.

    Is Pew way off or am I?

  4. Pew, has to be off, im a bean fart from being upper class by their standards. Even given that cost of living is lower here than say any large metro area , i would not consider ourselves upper class… There are no BMW’s or Jags in my driveway…
    Your standards sounds pretty reasonable to me Kevin, but as with any study they have to use quantitative numerals to palace people where they thing the should be.

  5. working poor want to be well off, move up. well those that are willing to work that is. Those, do not care, as long as they got their TV programs internet and beer…

  6. No, not even close. Nobody cares though. As Henry Hill said of the political and judicial systems relationship with the Mob, everyone has their hand out.

  7. Too lazy to look, but are they just defining upper class as top 10% or something like that?
    Because I am always shocked by how high up we are, when you lay it out in percent terms, as well as how huge the jumps are once you get above, say top 5%, etc.

  8. With all due respect, there was nothing in the Constitution about women voting or not owning people until it got amended. It’s not exactly infallible.

  9. I feel pretty strongly that Mrs. Thrill and I would be on that lower tier of upper class if we didn’t have kids. I wonder if geography plays a role too. You can do pretty well in KC on a low six figure income.

  10. Oh, yeah, I look up how we compare to other 4 person households in our state anytime I start freaking out about money.

  11. Pew defines upper class as adults whose annual household income is more than double the national median ($55,775 in 2016)

  12. There are no BMW’s or Jags in my driveway…

    Driving a BMW/Jag doesn’t indicate rich, it indicates debt more often than not. I’m shocked at some people who will carry a $1,000+ per month car payment, but live in a rental.

  13. Jags hold their values so poorly that a Jag in the driveway is cool and all but it doesn’t mean anyone is rich.

  14. I haven’t fact-checked it, but I’ve heard before that millionaires are more likely to drive Ford F-350’s than Jags. Somehow, I believe it.

  15. Man….every now and then, I catch a reflection in a window of myself driving my Kia Sedona and I say, “What the FUCK happened?”

  16. Dodge Grand Caravan for Mr. mashav. We have a very unique car market – foreign cars are frowned upon. And that stow-and-go is fraking genius!

  17. $102K is wayyyy off for being upper class, at least where I live. I would say that sort of income is on the low end of middle class–it’s barely enough to cover a mortgage, modest food expenses, and day to day expenses, and not really enough to even afford a solid one-week vacation per year. $250K is a more likely threshold for upper class, but even then, I’m not so sure that is even enough, maybe $400-500K is more appropriate.

    Kevin, your definitions are much more appropriate. They also demonstrate income classes are highly dependent on geography. My wife and I would be living quite well if we had our income but were living in Grendel territory (we are noticeably above the $102K threshold). Here in MD, we live a lifestyle very much aligned with Kevin’s definition–well enough to cover our bills and not worry about bouncing checks, and enough to afford a few small luxuries, like an annual vacation and Nationals season tickets. But that’s only because we don’t have kids–once they come along, it will actually be quite tight with our current income–relatively comfortable lifestyle but with few to none of the frills we currently enjoy.

  18. It is. And the article states that there are other ways of defining it. This one seems pretty weak.

  19. I absolutely love Kia but I can definitely understand one’s reluctance to drive an import in your neck of the woods.

  20. A few years ago we were on our way to Traverse City and our car broke down on I-75. We stopped at a garage at a Ford dealership in West Branch (with my pregnant wife). We had a Subaru Forrester. With a look of bewilderment on the serviceman’s face he told us, We don’t deal in them ferrin vehicles (okay so I’m exaggeratin’ the Michigan accent, but you get the point).

  21. I’ve owned a Ford Fairmont, a Plymouth Colt, three Escorts, a Fusion, and another American car manufactured in Belfast.

  22. What you propose in saying we should pay people some basic income just for existing is the antithesis of everything this country was founded on. I can’t see any faster demise to this country than by pushing for such.

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